Tuesday 20 February 2018

Arsene Wenger future doubts have contributed to 'horrendous' Arsenal atmosphere

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger admitted an "absolutely horrendous" environment at the club contributed to their failure to qualify for the Champions League and accepted his own situation was partly to blame.

Goals from Hector Bellerin, Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey saw the Gunners claim a 3-1 victory over Everton on the final day of the Premier League season.

But it was not enough as wins for Manchester City and Liverpool saw Arsenal miss out on a top-four finish by one point.

Wenger is yet to confirm if he will still be in charge next season, but the ongoing speculation and protests from fans who want the Frenchman out were surely part of a negative atmosphere which has hampered the Gunners this season.

On Sunday, there were also protests against Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke.

"It's very strange because, for 75 points, we are only one point short," Wenger said. "Of course you can look everywhere for where we dropped these points, but since January it's been a very difficult environment for different reasons.

"Some you know about, and that's very difficult for a group of players to cope with that. There are some other reasons that we will talk about another day.

"Psychologically, the environment for this group of players was absolutely horrendous and I'm very proud of what they have done, the way they responded and finished the season."

He added of the troubled environment: "Certainly my personal situation has contributed to that."

Despite seemingly acknowledging the uncertainty as a problem, Wenger refused to be drawn on his future ahead of the FA Cup final - for which the Gunners could be without defenders Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel, sent off and injured respectively against Everton.

"Look, my personal situation tonight is not so important," Wenger said.

"I care about this club. Even if I leave one day I will love this club until the last day of my life, and I want this club to do well and that's all I care about tonight.

"It's not my personal situation, it's just how well the club responds next season.

"You have been at the games and you cannot say that the environment for the players was especially positive.

"I don't know. What is important is we do our job. We are professional people and part of being professional is as well to perform when the environment is not positive. We have not to look there as well as an excuse, but I just say it's a fact - it doesn't help."

Wenger also admitted that missing out on a top-four berth felt "very strange".

A fifth-placed finish means Wenger's men will be on the outside looking in after 19 straight seasons in Europe's elite club competition.

"It's very sad," the Frenchman said. "For 20 years we were in it and it's the first year that we will not be in it."

Wenger did not take part in a lap of honour with his squad, but when asked if that signalled the end of his time at Arsenal, he said: "No, not at all."

Despite defeat, Everton finished seventh and will join Arsenal in the Europa League.

However, manager Ronald Koeman said it was imperative to find players who can give his side more aggression and productivity.

"It wasn't good enough," the Dutchman said. "We saw today what we need for the next season. We need more productivity out of possession.

"That's the difference between us and Arsenal. We did everything to win the game but we had to score in the first half. It was a long time 11 v 10 and a penalty isn't enough."

Koeman also confirmed he is set to speak to the board on Monday about Ross Barkley's future.

The manager said last week he was not confident about the England international signing a new contract at Goodison Park. And when asked about contract negotiations, Koeman said: "I will speak to the board tomorrow and we will make a statement.

"He was one of the players who didn't show productivity today. Overall it's not about one player, but I understand why you asked about him. That's what we need to change. We need to find players with more productivity."

Press Association

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